It’s not what you have but how you use it.

random_designedA tree has many uses and so does a pond. Even a house produces more than shelter for the residents; it produces some shade and windbreak for the garden. A gnarled and knobbly tree that is useless for lumber will provide shade for many years. And an old hen will serve to fertilise the soil, consume scraps, and scratch up the garden so we can manage it where it can be of good use.

Here is a dysfunctional garden, the truck is a danger to water quality and to the hens and is heating up in the full sun. The pond is evaporating fast in full sun. The herb and vegetable patch is in deep shade. The house has rotten fruit on its paths and is not shaded.

Here, the same elements are better planned so that they work together. The falling fruit is eaten by hens; the hens kept out off the paths, away from cars and vegetables; the pond helps cool the house. The vegetables and herbs are close to the house and near the path so they are noticed and harvested often. Palms collect breezes, circulate the air near the house, and provide shade for the house and truck.

There is no set model for the ideal permaculture garden. Each must be tailored according to needs of the user, the climate, the shape of the landscape and the social needs.